I think that was one of the points of the books. Distances are vast, traveling from A to B takes a lot of time, and the kinds of Gandalf, Sauron, the Elves, etc... have a lot of time, so they don't need to hurry things.
Okay, I'll buy that. If all parties feel the same way about the passage of time then I suppose that makes sense. Just seems like one side would gain a certain advantage by hastening things, which I would imagine is one part of why the movies flow the way they do.